Years Prior to the First War
The following timeline covers events that have happened prior to the First War between orcs and humans (Fall of the Eredar to Warcraft: Orcs and Humans). Years given are approximated.
Timeline entries are marked as either |Warcraft Lore| or |Netherbane Lore|. The former are entries that are from various official sources (websites, books, etc.), and because of this, some of it may become out-of-date as the story of Warcraft evolves. The latter entries are pieces of lore directly from the Netherbane's history.
~25,000 years Before the FIRST WAR
THE DRAENEI EXILE
The fallen titan, Sargeras, approaches the leaders of the eredar race and offers them power in exchange for service to his army, the Burning Legion. Two of the three leaders, Archimonde and Kil'jaeden, agree to what Sargeras offers. The third, Velen, foresees the corruption of his race and refuses the offer. He takes a portion of the eredar into exile from their world of Argus, fleeing with the aide of the mysterious energy-being known as K'ure. These exiles rename themselves draenei, which means “exiled ones." Kil'jaeden does not take this lightly, and begins a millenia-long hunt for Velen and his followers.
K'ure reveals himself to be a naaru, a race of powerful beings deeply in tune with the Light, and pledges himself to helping the wayward draenei.
~10,000 YEARS BEFORE THE FIRST WAR
The WAR OF THE ANCIENTS
The night elven queen, Azshara, along with the kal'dorei upper class known as the highborne, open a portal into the Twisting Nether using the first Well of Eternity: an immense magical font of power in the center of the continent. They make contact with the fallen titan, Sargeras, whom they believe to be a god. Sargeras uses this to his advantage, sending his Burning Legion through the portal to invade Azeroth for the first time, which begins the War of the Ancients.
|Netherbane Lore| Tharion's Cowardice
During the invasion, many night elven cities are attacked and destroyed. A young scholar named Tharion flees from his home, leaving his father and brother to defend their city against a felguard commander named Zevash. Tharion flees in fear, leaving his family behind to face the demons alone. Tharion hides in the Ashenvale forest, evading demons and avoiding the war.
|WARCRAFT LORE| The Betrayer
A young druid, Malfurion Stormrage, and his twin brother, the sorcerer Illidan Stormrage, fight against the Burning Legion's advance. Illidan appears to betray his people and his brother by turning to the side of Queen Azshara, leader of the highborne and newly turned ally to Sargeras himself. In direct communication with the fallen titan, Illidan is “gifted" with his spectral vision, the process of which burns out his natural eyes and grants him demonic powers.
In truth, Illidan has joined the Burning Legion in order to learn more about them. He seeks to destroy the demons, but believes he can only do so once he learns their ways. No one believes him, however, and he is labeled “Betrayer" by his own people.
|NETHERBANE LORE| The Nightbane Brothers
The Nightbane brothers, a trio of night elf battlemages known for hunting bounties across the kal'dorei lands, join the battle against the Burning Legion when an ered'ruin doomguard named Sraath attacks a magical academy deep in the Forest Song woods. The eldest of the three brothers, Eraelus, teaches at the academy, while the youngest, Eraelor, is a student. The middle brother, Eraelan, had instead chosen to remain a bounty hunter, and is currently seeking to hunt a sorcerer named Illidan Stormrage.
Eraelan encounters Illidan Stormrage as Illidan attempts to thwart Sraath's plans to destroy the academy. Not believing him, Eraelan attacks the Betrayer, but is easily defeated. Illidan finally convinces Eraelan to help him protect the arcane academy. It is at Forest Song where they meet up with Eraelus and Eraelor, along with the other students. The three brothers, in each others' company for the first time in decades, fight alongside the Betrayer to save the school, but they are unsuccessful. The Forest Song Magical Academy is destroyed.
|Warcraft Lore| Well of Eternity and Nordrassil
Malfurion creates a desperate plan to destroy the Well of Eternity, which is the source of night elven magic, and collapse the portal. Illidan returns, claiming his betrayal was a mere ruse to get him into the palace, and proceeds to help his brother in the plan. They succeed and the Well of Eternity is destroyed, but not before Illidan saves some of the waters by sealing them into magical vials. The resulting implosion of the Well sunders the continent of Kalimdor, splitting it apart and causing the palace of Queen Azshara to sink beneath the waves. Above where the Well of Eternity once stood now exists the ever-churning Maelstrom.
After the war, Illidan Stormrage uses vials of captured water from the first Well of Eternity to empower a small lake atop the sacred mountain of Hyjal. This forms into the second Well of Eternity. His brother, Malfurion, shocked at his brother's defiance and blind devotion to the power that almost destroyed them all, sentences his brother to imprisonment below the earth and assigns Maiev Shadowsong to be his eternal Warden.
The three remaining dragon aspects who still maintain a grip on their sanity help Malfurion plant a tree to mask the energies of this new Well. They place it above the new magical waters and magically bless this tree, which is named Nordrassil, or “Crown of the Heavens."
|NETHERBANE LORE| Tharion's Exile
Tharion returns amongst the survivors of the night elven people, having kept himself hidden throughout most of the war. His father and brother, who survived as well, do not welcome him back warmly. Tharion, ashamed of his cowardice, retreats into the depths of Ashenvale forest once again, learning how to survive on his own.
|NETHERBANE LORE| Eraelan After the War
Eraelan also leaves the survivors, choosing to return to the ruins of the war and study what remains of the Burning Legion and its agents. It is during this time that Eraelan discovers the secrets to demonic binding, and chooses to follow a path similar to that of Illidan Stormrage. Eraelan becomes a demon hunter.
Eraelor and Eraelus stay to help rebuild night elven society.
~9,800 YEARS BEFORE THE First War
THe Highborne Exile
|WARCRAFT LORE| Malfurion's Decree
As the night elves rebuild, a ban is placed on arcane magic under the penalty of death. It is believed that it was the pursuit of arcane power that caused Sargeras to turn his eye towards Azeroth, and the night elves do not wish to tempt the Burning Legion again. Malfurion and Cenarius offer druidism as an alternative, and many night elves choose to learn this path, including Eraelor.
However, many of the surviving highborne refuse to give up their arcane pursuits, and a schism is formed within kal'dorei society. In rebellion against the ban, the highborne unleash a magical storm over the Ashenvale. Malfurion Stormrage, unable to sentence so many of his people to death for the magical storm unleashed in defiance of the law, forces the responsible highborne into exile.
|NETHERBANE LORE| Nightbane Brothers Part Ways
Eraelus, unable to abide by the ban on arcane magic, chooses to travel with the highborne across the sea. Eraelor, disgusted by his eldest brother's choice to not give up the addicting magic, gladly watches him go. Eraelan, seeing Eraelor's intolerance, retreats once again into the forests of Ashenvale to pursue his new path.
Eraelus takes upon a new last name, calling himself Eraelus Soulbane, a name that is passed down to his descendents in the modern era. Eraelan also changes, taking upon the name Eraelan Netherbane to indicate his following of the demon hunter path. Only Eraelor retains the original family name of Nightbane.
|WARCRAFT LORE| Highborne Exile
The highborne make their way across the great sea and find what will eventually be known as Lordaeron. After years of struggle, they create their magical kingdom of Quel'thalas to the north. Using a stolen vial of water from the Well of Eternity, Dath'remar Sunstrider creates the Sunwell. The highborne lose their night elven coloring and cease being nocturnal.
~9,700 YEARS BEFORE THE FIRST WAR
THE NETHERBANE CAMP
Eraelan, having honed his demon hunting skills on many of the remaining demons lurking throughout Ashenvale forest, chooses to teach his methods to other willing night elves. He returns to the ruins of Forest Song Academy and sets up a camp. As the whispers and rumors of his desire to teach spread, Eraelan begins to gather a small handful of students beneath him.
One of Eraelan's most prominent students, Elaia Shaillan, stumbles across a disheveled night elf man in the forests who calls himself “just Tharion." She invites him back to the camp and introduces him to Eraelan, who offers the elf a place to stay. Tharion, having long ago left his previous life behind, agrees to step onto the path of the demon hunter.
~5,500 YEARS BEFORE THE First War
Elaia Shaillan falls in love with a fellow student by the name of Thelnin. Thelnin, as a student of Eraelan Netherbane, does not excel. He is the weakest student, but he believes that his desire to walk the path of the demon hunter is noble enough to carry him through the training.
Eraelan does not hide his disgust for Thelnin, usually making his opinion of the young trainee known without remorse. Thelnin, however, stays determined to better his skills. And with Elaia's help, he believes that it is just a matter of time and effort before he can earn his shan'do's respect.
Eraelan, believing that Thelnin is a detriment to Elaia's progress, sends the young initiate into the heart of the ruins known as The Legion's Hand. Hidden amongst the forested foothills of Mount Hyjal, the Legion's Hand is home to a powerful fel lord who survived the War of the Ancients named Zevash.
Zevash is far too powerful an opponent for Thelnin to face alone, but he chooses to so anyway, trusting that his shan'do would not have chosen Zevash if he did not believe that Thelnin was capable of defeating him. Thelnin, unfortunately, is mistaken.
Elaia is crushed by Thelnin's death. The other students, Tharion included, recognize for the first time the harsh truth about the demon hunter path: failure of any sort leads to death.
~4,690 YEARS BEFORE THE First War
Eraelan Netherbane leads Tharion into the foothills of Hyjal, back to The Legion's Hand. It is here that Tharion discovers his next major test as a demon hunter—to defeat the same creature that killed Thelnin centuries ago. Eraelan reveals to Tharion that Zevash is still more powerful. Therefore he must first find a suitably powerful demon to bind to himself.
Tharion tracks a particularly raging infernal within the Legion's Hand and successfully defeats the beast. Eraelan acts quickly and binds the creature's essence into his student, bolstering Tharion's power but forever tainting his soul. After this, Tharion seeks out and challenges the fel lord, who reveals himself to be the same fel lord from whom Tharion ran during the war. The same fel lord who killed his mother.
In a fit of rage, Tharion calls forth his newly achieved abilities and destroys Zevash's body before falling unconscious. Eraelan, impressed by his pupil, captures the remnant soul and takes Zevash's weapon for later use. It is to this soul that Tharion is later permanently bound, fully becoming a demon hunter.
~4,500 YEARS BEFORE THE First War
The Greyseer Born
Elaia, whose personality darkened the day that Thelnin died, and who was further hardened when Tharion “stole" her chance of vengeance against the demon Zevash, began to surpass all other students in the camp. She became harder and stronger than any other, and she was able to bind herself to multiple demons, gaining the strength from each.
But while she was ascending as a demon hunter, she was also descending into a personal madness from which no one could save her. Exactly 1000 years after Thelnin's death Elaia finally broke. In a fit of uncontrollable rage, she slaughters at least half of the unbound students within the Netherbane camp before fleeing into Ashenvale.
Tharion, Eraelan's second most promising student, is sent to hunt Elaia, a task he takes with a heavy heart. Understanding the danger she poses, Tharion reluctantly agrees to the hunt. Tharion quickly succeeds in slaying Elaia, but not before she regains a measure of lucidity about her actions, a fact which makes her execution that much more difficult. Wishing her a proper burial, Tharion reverently brings back the broken body of the woman who had started him on the path of the demon hunter over five millennia ago.
Unknown to Tharion, however, Eraelan secretly captures Elaia's waning soul and stores it in a magical crystal formed from the blood of slain demons. He performs a ritual upon her dead body to preserve it, believing he could somehow use her even after death.
Understanding the value of having a student who was capable of hunting down his failures, Eraelan secretly shapes Tharion's training towards hunting rogue demon hunters in addition to the Burning Legion. Tharion accepts the new responsibilities coldly, understanding the necessity of the matter. It is upon this acceptance that Eraelan Netherbane gifts Tharion with the last name of Greyseer, to mark his distinct outlook upon the colors of motivation.
~4,497 YEARS BEFORE THE First War
The doomguard known as Sraath returns his attention to Azeroth. Sraath, now much more powerful than before, reaches across the Twisting Nether and whispers to Eraelan as he sleeps. Eraelan, wary of the doomguard's approach, carefully listen.
Sraath offers Eraelan a measure of power unlike the demon hunter could ever comprehend. Intrigued by what he could do with such power, and secretly intending to see how he could use it against the Legion itself, Eraelan agrees to help Sraath gain a foothold once again on Azeroth. He offers up the preserved body and soul of the late Elaia, Eraelan's strongest student to date. Sraath agrees and sends minions to take the crystal containing her soul as well as her magically preserved body.
Sraath then offers Eraelan information regarding how to shape mortal flesh, an ability that Eraelan practices in ritual secrecy. To this day many of the results of Eraelan's flesh-crafting experiments have not been found. Some believe he was able to banish them to the Twisting Nether. Others believe it is only a matter of time before their secrets are unleashed from wherever it is they hide.
~3,336 YEARS BEFORE THE First War
It is many centuries later that Eraelan comes to believe himself beyond Sraath's tutelage, and begins to execute his plans to banish the demon back into the Twisting Nether. Tharion and a few of the other well-trained students are sent against Sraath's growing power base to the south of Ashenvale forest.
This war is never known to those outside of demon hunting circles, but to those of Netherbane's teachings, it is brutal. Many of Eraelan's best students are killed during the resulting fights, and even Tharion is severely weakened—having his grasp on his fel energies shattered. However, Eraelan succeeds in banishing the doom lord from Azeroth once again. Sraath vows vengeance against Eraelan and all things tainted with the name “Netherbane."
~1 YEARS BEFORE THE First War
Rise of the Horde
The peaceful draenei, who had years ago found their way to the world they eventually named Draenor are slaughtered by the demon-tainted orcish horde. The draenei holy temple of Karabor is taken by the Horde and rechristened the Black Temple. Gul'dan, with Medivh's help, opens the first Dark Portal between Azeroth and Draenor. Orcs beging to invade Azeroth.
The FIRST WAR Between ORCS AND HUMANS
The orcs raze Stormwind City and destroy much of that kingdom. The Guardian Medivh is killed by his apprentice Khadgar and his friend, Anduin Lothar. King Llane of Stormwind is assassinated by Garona Half-orcen.